It was a cooler October afternoon last year. Late October in Atlanta is never cold like it is in the Midwest. And at the same time, Thursday nights in the Midwest are never like it was that night. Virginia Tech, the #22 team in the country was in town to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and I had tickets.
I hadn't been to a Southern football game for five years. No, not since that September right after college when I saw Auburn play an undermanned Appalachian State team and give the Tiger fans hope that their new head coach, some guy named Tuberville, might actually work out.
I have to state that this was Southern football game, because there is nothing else like it. Whether it is the ACC or the SEC, football in the South is, like the Masters, a tradition unlike any other. The Big XII likes to think they rival the passion, but the truth is that Texas and Oklahoma will always be ruled by high school football. The Big East has changed too many times, with too many rivals coming and going to even come close. It is pretty hard to get your school excited to play Temple, even if they are no longer in the league. I went to school in Big East country, and the biggest college football game was the Army-Navy game, period.
The Big Ten is where I grew up and where I live now, but no, I didn't go to a Big Ten school. Truthfully, other than a few games a year, the schools in the Big Ten were always outshined by a little Catholic school in Northern Indiana. Now, I have been to Big Ten football games. Northwestern (OK, it barely counts, but they are in the Big Ten), Penn State, Michigan State - none of which had a sliver of the passion that even that 1-AA opponent brought out in the Auburn fans that Saturday night. Maybe at the big games in the Big Ten, there is that fever, but not every game. So it was with great excitement that, when given the opportunity to see the game, I jumped at the chance.
Georgia Tech sits in one of the many downtown areas of Atlanta, Georgia. It is an urban campus, very much like the one where I went to school. The only difference here is that they play football and have an amazing tradition behind it. You see, there was this guy named John Heisman. You may have heard of him. He was head coach of the university for 16 years and led them on a 32 game winning streak. Now they give a trophy named after him, but it really isn't a big deal to win it.